A former co-worker who is in her early 20s posted a link on Facebook: The 100 things every 20-something should know. Most of the items on the list were about relationships, sex, grooming, jobs, money….but this one caught my attention:
63. They stopped making good music in the 90s.
I’m 51 but my first reaction was, “bullshit!”
Then again, many people my age haven’t listened to anything new since Guns ‘N Roses.
I guess it makes it easier to compare decades but every decade of my life has been filled with great music, and stuff that is, to put it mildly, cringeworthy. The ’80s are often under attack, mostly due to laughable fashion trends and bizarre hairstyles. A Flock of Seagulls, and most hard rock bands that sported feathered hair and mascara after Motley Crue hit the charts. Even Ozzy wore eyeliner in the mid to late ’80s though I’m betting, thankfully, he can’t remember those days.
I loved the ’80s because it was a golden age for hard rock and metal, from Iron Maiden and The Scorpions to Motorhead and Ronnie James Dio (solo and with Black Sabbath).
Rather than choosing a best calendar decade I would go for a “best 10 years” that crossed two decades. The music that took me through my teens ran from the mid ’70s to the mid ’80s, ending with the bands in the previous paragraph and beginning with Elton John, solo Paul McCartney, Aerosmith and Heart. But that would not be my favourite “decade.”
No, for that I’d jump back a bit earlier.
The best ten years, in terms of pop and rock, stretched from ’64 to ’74. The Beatles, Stones, The Who and Led Zeppelin at their respective peaks. Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Sam Cooke, Simon & Garfunkel and—tell me who these bands had in common—The Yardbirds, Cream, Blind Faith and Derek & The Dominoes.
Yes, Slowhand himself, Eric Clapton.
Clapton’s solo career, which began in the mid ’70s, pales in comparison to his work with those bands. Blah for the most part. Playing alongside Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker, Steve Winwood and Duane Allman (who played the Layla riff, which is why it never sounds the same when Clapton does it in concert) inspired Slowhand and pushed him to greatness.
Then he settled into periods of blues remakes and easy listening favourites.
So the creator of that list suggests nothing worthwhile has been recorded during the past decade?
Green Day’s “Amerian Idiot” was great. So was “The Black Parade” by My Chemical Romance. Eminem? Brilliant (sure, it’s hip hop but the rock elements play a big part in his tunes).
In American Graffiti, set in 1962, Big John Milner says “Rock and roll’s been going downhill every since Buddy Holly died.”
Perhaps the author of that list feels the same way about Kurt Cobain.
Open your ears!

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